TARPON SPRINGS - Hercules Ypsilantis, 83, saw a promise to his father fulfilled Nov. 14 as the Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society unveiled a piece of Tarpon Springs history that had been kept in his garage for more than 60 years.
The 1926 Chevrolet jitney, painted bright green and yellow and restored to its original shine, gave its inaugural public rides outside of the Historic Depot Museum that afternoon. Three years ago, Ypsilantis donated the vehicle to the historical society, which raised funds for its restoration. Ypsilantis’ father was one of the jitney drivers who helped the residents of Tarpon Springs get around town in the 1930s and 1940s,
“I promised my dad that I would never sell it, never let it go out of Tarpon,” he said. “I can feel comfortable now. I don’t have to worry about it.”
TARPON SPRINGS - The Tarpon Arts Heritage Museum reopened Nov. 13, after nearly a year of renovations to its History Wing, kitchen and newly named Ecology Wing.
Tarpon Arts closed the museum after an electrical fire, caused by a short in the refrigerator, destroyed the kitchen on Dec. 26, 2014. The rest of the museum sustained only smoke damage, but while the kitchen was being rebuilt, the city decided to take the opportunity to renovate other pieces of the historic building, said Arts Marketing and Programs Manager Diane Wood.
TARPON SPRINGS - Renovations and upgrades of the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center has begun and are due to be completed in January, hopefully in time for the city’s spring shows.
The center, housed in Tarpon Springs City Hall, will get new lighting, new curtains, new rigging, a new sound system and a new sprinkler system. Between now and January, all the technical aspects of the center will be upgraded, replaced, taken apart, cleaned or adjusted, said Theater Manager Michael Raysses.
TARPON SPRINGS - After hours of negotiating over the course of a workshop and three public meetings, the city of Tarpon Springs agreed Nov. 17 to a lease reduction plan that allows Florida Hospital North Pinellas to free up an estimated $1.67 million toward the renovation of its emergency room.
Tarpon Springs commissioners agreed to pursue lowering the hospital’s annual lease from $348,766 next year - a payment that increases by 2 percent annually - to $300,000 for the duration of the 30-year lease. That means the city would collect $3.16 million less in revenue over the course of the next 24 years, amounting to a taxpayer contribution to the hospital’s emergency room renovations.
Despite the agreement, outlined in an ordinance up for a second reading next month, any change to the lease would have to be approved by a voter referendum, slated for the city elections in March.
TARPON SPRINGS - Tarpon Springs commissioners gave their initial approval to the expansion of parking at Tarpon Turtle, allowing three vacant residential lots near the restaurant to be re-zoned commercial in the first reading of two ordinances Nov. 3.
The second reading of the ordinances, needed to finalize the zoning and future land use designation changes, had been scheduled for the Nov. 17 meeting, but was delayed.
However, dozens of residents living near Tarpon Turtle attended the Nov. 3 commission meeting, either to give their support of the increased parking or to protest the potential growth of the restaurant they already find disruptive to the neighborhood.
TARPON SPRINGS - Starting Dec. 1, Tarpon Springs City Hall will have an unarmed security guard watching over a single public entrance, securing the building and helping the public find their way to the right city employee.
Tarpon Springs commissioners approved a contract Nov. 17 that provides a security guard at a cost of $45,000 per year.
“We need, for the safety of our employees in this building, to get this done,” City Manager Mark LeCouris said, explaining that there were two incidents of “people in City Hall that could have been problematic” just in the last week. “I was happy I was there at that time to deal with it.”
TARPON SPRINGS - The Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce honored several businesses as it named its 2015 Business Awards Nov. 4.
The chamber had scheduled an awards banquet Oct. 9, but had to cancel it due to lack of reservations. Instead, it recognized its new chamber President Maria Reza, installed its new board and gave out awards over a light breakfast at the Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Tarpon Springs.
Q Dogs was declared the Small Business of the Year. Other small businesses nominated for the award included Juice Marketing and Design, Edmar Outfitters, Anytime Fitness, What Can I Help You With and Wine at the Docks.
TARPON SPRINGS - Maria Reza’s first big goal as president of the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce is to visit every one of its members in just a few short months.
“That’s going to be my goal for the rest of the year,” she said. “(To) learn more about their businesses and the kinds of things they need to see.”
Reza brings the experience of building a nonprofit organization from the ground up with her to Tarpon Springs. In her hometown of Findlay, Ohio, she launched a downtown economic development organization, working to attract new businesses as well as help provide marketing techniques to businesses that had existed for generations, she said.
TARPON SPRINGS - The Merchants of Tarpon Springs are helping to make the Christmas wishes come true for many deserving Tarpon Springs Elementary and Middle school children this holiday season.
The teachers and counselors in both schools identified 27 children, including two homeless families, who need some help this year. The Merchants of Tarpon Springs would like to provide clothing, a big wish gift, food and special needs for each child’s family.
“There is a great need for food and hygiene items. Some children asked for blankets, food (and) socks,” explained Sherry Wendt of Gallery of Fun Finds, who came up with the idea.